Recently, an online article entitled “Phytoplankton pangenome reveals extensive prokaryotic horizontal gene transfer of diverse functions” was published on Science Advances by a team from QNLM Laboratory for Marine Fisheries Science and Food Production Processes led by Researcher YE Naihao.The new findings show the important role Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) played in algae evolution, explaining the effect of HGT on the adaptive evolution process, environmental adaptability and diversified pattern fixation of marine Chromalveolata.
HGT, also known as Lateral Gene Transfer (LGT), refers to the exchange of genetic material between different biological individuals or organelles within a single cell. Why and how does HGT occur in many species? What determines the species'' biodiversity? These unsolved mysteries were included in the 125 cutting-edge scientific questions released by Science. As one of the six realms of eukaryotic domains,Chromalveolata is a general term for all descendant species derived after a separate endosymbiosis between diflagellate eukaryotes and red algae, including many important taxa such as diatoms, dinoflagellates, and large brown algae. Chromalveolata is viewed as important primary producers for near shore and oceans.
As the potential of HGT to significantly alter the fate of species in a major eukaryotic assemblage remains to be established, this article provides an example for the ecologically important lineages encompassed by cryptophytes, rhizarians, alveolates, stramenopiles, and haptophytes (“CRASH” taxa). It describes robust evidence of prokaryotic HGTs in these taxa affecting functions such as polysaccharide biosynthesis. The results show that gene stealing or acquisition varies substantially among different CRASH species, with 0.16 percent to 1.44 percent of their genes (an average of 1 percent) coming from bacteria. The research results substantially expand the impact of HGT in eukaryotes and define a set of general principles for prokaryotic gene fixation in phytoplankton genomes.
The co-first authors of the article are FAN Xiao, a member of the research team led by YE Naihao andQIU Huan, independent scholar from USA, and the co-corresponding authors are Research YE Naihaoand Prof. Debashish Bhattacharya from Rutgers University.